Marcelo Bielsa suffers first defeat as Leeds manager as Che Adams' goals give Birmingham shock Championship win

Leeds 1-2 Birmingham: Leeds' unbeaten run under Bielsa comes to an end against unlikely opponents

Matt Murphy
Elland Road
Monday 24 September 2018 00:27
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Marcelo Biesla tastes defeat for the first time as Leeds manager
Marcelo Biesla tastes defeat for the first time as Leeds manager

Leeds United have succumbed to their first defeat this season under Marcelo Bielsa, in a 2-1 routing at home to Birmingham City.

A brace from Che Adams saw the visitors grab their own first win of the campaign, in a game mostly bereft of chances, before Leeds fought their way back into it late on.

United have been awash with positivity so far this season, their new manager seeming to bring a new attitude to the club, and they've topped the table for over a month. But for all of the smiles around a packed Elland Road before kick-off, it was the visitors who got things going just nine minutes in.

It was a moment that stunned the Leeds defence into a static shock. A free-kick taken quickly was laid off to Che Adams, who had the space to take a quick shot from outside the box, wrong-footing Bailey Peacock-Farrell as it swerved past his right-hand side. As Adams wheeled away, the crowd were in disbelief with how easy they'd made it.

An unchanged Leeds, who beat Preston here convincingly in midweek, were struggling to string passes together, and constantly lost possession. You could sense the frustration building in the stands, as the atmosphere turned quickly into a sour wave of criticism with every wayward pass and mistimed run. This wasn’t the Leeds they were now used to seeing.

There were mistakes aplenty as United continued to stutter around their own half, City holding strong to keep them out. The home side had most of the possession, but weren’t managing to take the game to Birmingham. Whatever it was, they certainly weren’t on their game, sloppily gifting passes to the opposition.

The Blues meanwhile weren’t thriving, but they were efficient. As they picked up a stray pass and drove forwards, Jacques Maghoma laid it off to Adams on the edge of the box. Leeds’ back four gave the young striker time to pull it back and send a trickling effort on the turn past an outstretched Peackock-Farrell. Two shots, two goals, 2-0.

They almost made it three in as many chances shortly after, but Maghoma's thundering volley from a corner was blocked.

Che Adams' goals were the difference at Elland Road

Bielsa, who has been famously sat on an upturned blue bucket on the sidelines this season, was on his feet to make a change just 30 minutes in, replacing defensive midfielder Kalvin Phillips with Stuart Dallas. They needed to shake up a wilting midfield should’ve had a goal back from a corner at the end of the half, as Liam Cooper headed over to the far post, missing Tyler Roberts by inches.

Birmingham were happy to sit deep in the second half, watching the clock as they looked to contain their precious win. Midfielder Gary Gardner embodied that ideal, and should’ve been shown yellow, as he appeared to feign an injury, plodding off slowly before suddenly coming back to life. The reception to this was similar to the one Gary Monk received when arriving at the ground - the Blues boss hasn't been popular since leaving the hot seat here last year.

Referee Peter Bankes was failing to get a grip of the game, various City players continuing to waste time throughout the half. Leeds’ frustrations had now transcended the stands to the bench and beyond the touchline, yellow cards coming for Samuel Saiz and coach Diego Reyes in the dugout. Bielsa was also up on his feet again, wagging his finger at the fourth official.

With 10 minutes to go, Ryan Edmondson headed down to fellow substitute Dallas, whose low shot grazed the post. It was the closest Leeds had come all game. They hadn't had a shot on target for over an hour into the game, but were beginning to finally find some luck up front.

Although it was looking like one to forget for the home side, Ezgian Alioski, who was having a poor game, gave them some hope. Saiz's high, curling ball found the midfielder in space in the Birmingham box. Alioski brought the ball down well before sticking a neat finish in the far corner. It was the late lifeline they needed, with five minutes to spare.

The crowd finally had something to cling on to as they willed the Whites forward in the final moments. You could sense Birmingham were more intent in conserving their win than heading for a third goal, attempting to keep possession just to run down the time. And so the chances came for Leeds instead as they pushed for the equaliser during the eight minutes of stoppage time added on. Dallas came close with a curling effort from outside the box, but Lee Camp got down low to push it wide. An equaliser was just too far out of reach.

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